A qualitative exploration of the experience and quality of life of patients, and their family carers, admitted to a specialist eye hospital with microbial keratitis

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Journal Article
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Microbial keratitis is a vision-threatening condition requiring intensive treatment. Understanding patients’ and carers’ experience during and after hospitalisation can inform improvements in care and outcomes. This study explored the vision-related quality of life, and the experiences of patients with microbial keratitis and their family carers when admitted to a quaternary referral eye hospital in Australia


: The study employed mixed methods, including qualitative interviews and a survey in hospital and a telephone interview post-discharge. A convenience sample was recruited of 33 patients with microbial keratitis who presented to hospital between March and October 2017, and 10 of their family carers. Semi-structured interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, coded and analysed using thematic analysis. Patient participants completed the National Eye Institute Visual Functioning Questionnaire – 25 (NEIVFQ-25).


: Qualitative analyses identified two main themes: Saving sight, with subthemes of costs of saving sight, and travel and transportation; Safe-guarding home and normal life with subthemes of family, work and pastimes . A group mean NEIVFQ-25 score of 74 was similar to other ophthalmic disease groups but pain scores were higher.


: Findings provide insights into the experiences and often unspoken concerns of microbial keratitis patients and their family carers, revealing the priority and the associated costs of saving sight, and the implications for family and lifestyles. These patients reported similarly reduced vision-related quality of life but greater pain compared to other ophthalmic groups. Findings point to ways to improve their experience and potentially reduce the high rates of unplanned representations of this patient group.
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